PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 6, 2016) – Caltech track & field showcased the continued progress the program has made over the past year with several significant performances in the season-opening All-Comers Meet on Saturday.
"The coaching staff was pleased with how training had been going, so we knew that we were prepared to perform well relative to last year," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said. "That said, there were a few pleasant surprises."
Seniors Edward Garza (Corpus Christi, Texas / King) and Morgan Hill (San Diego, Calif. / Wasatch Acad.) and junior Lucy Chen (Boonton Township, N.J. / Mountain Lakes) were the major highlights of the day. Appearing in his first competition since high school – and his first-ever sprint event – Garza stumbled at the start of the exhibition 60-meter dash but responded with a blazing 11.55 in the 100m, a mere .03 behind the graduated Victor Duan's season-best 11.52 last year and nearly three-quarters of a second quicker than Duan's season-opening 12.27.
"Edward has been an eager learner, but we've had to be careful with his training due to his relative inexperience," Raphelson said. "This was a great debut by him and bodes well for the future. He has a lot of room for improvement."
Earlier in the day, Hill cleared his personal-best mark in the hammer throw by almost seven feet, reaching a distance of 132 feet, 11 inches – a full 25 feet further than he threw in last year's opener. Chen also posted an impressive mark in the triple jump, leaping 29 feet, six inches to come within just over a foot of her 2015 best that ranks seventh all-time in program history.
"Given how Morgan's training has been going, his performances were validating but not surprising," Raphelson said. "He has lofty aspirations and if he stays focused on building on the work we've accomplished in practice, this has the makings of a special season. This was a promising start from Lucy as well, but she is really just scratching the surface of what she can accomplish."
Freshman Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) had a day in the distance events, placing third in both the 1500m and 3000m. His 4:21.06 time in the 1500m was within eight seconds of 2015 5,000m champion Aditya Bhagavathi's opening time last year, while his 10:21.06 in the 3000m was almost three seconds faster than the Beavers' top time in last year's meet. Sophomore Chris Haack (New York City, N.Y. / The Browning School) ran a personal-best 3000m by more than 11 seconds and senior Kevin Yei (Carlsbad, Calif. / La Costa Canyon) crossed the line a shade under his time at last year's meet in the 200m.
Raphelson and the Beavers will continue to ramp up their training with an eye toward the bulk of the season over the next three weeks, beginning with the Alyssa Sialaris Memorial Throws Meet at Whittier College on Saturday, Feb. 13.